Monday, January 11, 2010

Fr. James Martin On Believing In The Blessed Mother And The Gospels

Joan Chittister, a Catholic sister, in an essay in the new book Holiness and the Feminine Spirit, points out that Mary does not turn to the men in her life—not to Joseph her husband for understanding, nor to her father for protection, nor to the local priests for vindication. "No," writes Chittister, "Mary goes to another woman."

During the sojourn with her cousin, Mary proclaims what is termed her "Magnificat" (after the Latin translation of the first words of her discourse: "My soul magnifies the Lord"). Still shocking for some contemporary Christians, Jesus' mother celebrates a God who has

"brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly." God fills the hungry with good things, she says, and "sends the rich away empty." Imagine a prosperity-gospel preacher saying that God favors the poor!
The passage is beloved by liberation theologians, by the poor, and, frankly, by anyone who looks to God for ultimate justice.

From then on, Mary had a hard road to slog. Nine months of pregnancy,
to be sure, but also, if you believe even a fraction of what are called the "infancy narratives" in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew,
a tiring journey with Joseph to Bethlehem for a census.

Link (here) to the piece in Slate by Fr. James Martin, S.J. entitled, Hail Mary: You may have more in common with the mother of Jesus than you think.


Maria said...

I commented on this article posted at America Magazine in December 2009:

Main Entry: hand·maid·en
Pronunciation: \-?m?-d?n\
Variant(s): also hand·maid \-?m?d\
Function: noun
Date: 13th century
1 : a personal maid or female servant
2 : something whose essential function is to serve or assist

No matter the efforts to re-write the story, Mary was a servant, come to bear the birth of the helpless Christ Child. Our helpless baby to bear, as Annie Dillard tells us. Sorry, Sister Joan Chittister, not a terribly palatable notion, but there you have it: SERVANT.

Joseph Fromm said...


Very nice.



Anonymous said...

In Argentina I witnessed one Jesuit lecturing 75-100 future catechists that Jesus didn't die for our sins. When I questioned him he sugggested I read Hans Kung. He brushed aside my questioning of his recommendation by adding that the book he was recommending had been written prior to Kung being prohibited from teaching in the name of the Church. I wrote to the local bishop but never received a response.

Two weeks ago in Peru the Jesuit Sunday mass guide quoted Nietzsche for the week's thought. An Anthony de Mello quote was the thought for this week. In both cases they were juxtaposed, or mixed with, a quote from Benedict XVI, but without any explanation.

I don't see a problem with quoting Nietzsche or anyone. Indeed, the latter might have written 'roses are red or white...' and who could have a problem with that? Yet why did they choose to refer a non-philosophically sophisticated audience to Nietzsche, the author of "The Anti-Christ", with no further ado?

In this article James Martin SJ James Martin SJ finishes by having Mary take a stab at Christ's awareness of his divinity: "Perhaps she understood Jesus' ultimate ministry better than even he did at that moment."

Hey, maybe Jesus wasn't even God. Is that what thi Jesuit trying to say? Indeed, if Jesus was God and he did not know it, he must have been really stupid, right? But how could God be stupid? Therefore Jesu was not God. Is that what you mean Fr. Martin?

Enrique Alonso

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Alonso,

So much for being "respectful and thoughtful" as the comment box suggests. I am appalled at your comments about an article that expressed my deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. Clearly Mary had far more time to reflect on Jesus's divinity (which I believe in) as she was an adult when he was still an infant. Or do think he knew that he was God before he could even think? Then you are committing the fallacy of not accepting his full humanity. Jesus was fully human and fully divine. And I'm tired of having to answer questions about my faith, particularly those raised on this blog.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. James Martin, SJ

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Alonso,
So much for the "respectful and thoughful" comments that the Comment box asks for. I found your calling into question my faith appalling, particularly in an article in which I expressed my deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. Clearly Mary had more time to reflect on Jesus's divinity, because she was an adult when he was conceived. Or do you think Jesus knew he was God even before he could think? Then you are committing the fallacy of denying Jesus's humanity. Jesus was fully human and fully divine--that's what I believe because that's what the Church believes. I'm getting tired of defending my faith on this blog. You might try giving some of us the benefit of the doubt, particularly those who have devoted their life to the Church.
James Martin, SJ

Anonymous said...

James Martin SJ:

Jesus is the second person of the blessed trinity, God, both before and after the incarnation.

There are not 2 Jesus', only 1; one indissoluble person, God.

God cannot be both aware and unaware of being God for that would be a contradiction. Jesus as human must always have known the he was God. Scripture tells us that when he was 12 he referred to God as his personal father.

Please explain why you believe that if Jesus were aware that he was God he would be denying his humanity.

Instead of being upset with me, you should consider battling your fellow Jesuits, like the ones I've mentioned.

Enrique Alonso